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Anthony v. Genie Industries, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

November 5, 2019

MARY ANN ANTHONY, Individually and As Representative of the Estate of LEROY ANTHONY, and BRENDETTA ANTHONY SCOTT PLAINTIFFS
v.
GENIE INDUSTRIES, INC. d/b/a TEREX AERIAL WORK PLATFORMS, TEREX CORPORATION and MID-DELTA RENTAL, LLC DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          MICHAEL P. MILLS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause comes before the court on the motion of plaintiffs, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), to dismiss this case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Defendants have responded in opposition to the motion, and the court, having considered the memoranda and submissions of the parties, concludes that the motion is well taken and should be granted.

         This is a products liability case arising out of the death of Leroy Anthony in a January 2, 2018 accident at the Leflore County Civic Center in Greenwood, Mississippi. This accident occurred when the Genie® TZTM 34/20 Trailer Mounted Boom Lift that Anthony was operating suddenly collapsed, thereby fatally injuring him. Plaintiffs have filed an opposed motion to dismiss this action, based on their filing of a motion to amend their complaint to add Mid Delta Rental, LLC (“Mid Delta”) as a defendant in this case. Since the filing of the motion to dismiss, Judge Percy has granted the motion to amend, and, on October 30, 2019, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint naming Mid Delta as a party. The amended complaint plainly alleges that plaintiff Mary Ann Anthony and Mid Delta are both domiciled in Mississippi, thus destroying the diversity of citizenship which serves as the jurisdictional basis for this case.[1]

         As a result of the foregoing, the only basis upon which this court might deny plaintiffs' motion to dismiss would be in the event that it disagreed with Judge Percy's ruling on the motion to amend and determined that it should be reversed. After reviewing Judge Percy's order, however, this court fully agrees with his analysis and conclusions and hereby adopts them as its own. Like Judge Percy, this court concludes that plaintiffs' desire to add Mid Delta as a party is based upon a genuine belief that this entity might face liability in this case. This court likewise agrees with Judge Percy that the fact that plaintiffs originally filed this action in federal court suggests that their actions are not motivated by a desire to avoid federal jurisdiction. In their brief, plaintiffs assert that they only learned of Mid Delta's potential liability during discovery in this case, writing that:

During fact witness depositions taken in mid-June of 2019, Leflore County witnesses testified about the history of the subject trailer mounted aerial work platform (“boom lift”), their knowledge regarding the use of the boom lift, and whether any other third-party performed maintenance or repairs on the subject boom lift. Plaintiffs learned for the first time that Mid Delta actually performed additional repairs or maintenance sometime between July of 2017 and January 2, 2018. No. party had any knowledge of this important fact prior to these depositions.

[Brief at 2-3].

         In their amended complaint, plaintiffs make the following allegations of negligence against Mid Delta:

6.32 Defendant Mid Delta Rental committed acts of omission and commission, which collectively and severally constituted negligence, and that negligence proximately caused Mr. Anthony's injuries and damages.
6.33 Defendant's acts or omissions constituting negligence include,
a. failing to properly repair the lift;
b. failing to warn or inform regarding the extent of repairs performed on the lift;
c. failing to adequately inspect and test the lift;
d. failing to place the lift out of service or warn of any known danger/defect in the lift;
e. failing to disclose safety information regarding the lift and/or the extent of repairs and maintenance ...

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